HEDGING THEIR BETS?

Presidential candidate George W. Bush's campaign is raking in big bucks from St. Louis' wealthiest suburbs -- but those same donors are also ingratiating themselves with Democratic contenders

You'd think George W. Bush grew up in Ladue, the way good burghers of our tonier burbs are pumping money into the Texas governor's presidential bid.

A check of campaign-disclosure reports through mid-July shows Bush raised more than $680,000 from individual contributors in Missouri, with nearly half of that money coming from the St. Louis suburbs of Clayton, Ladue, Creve Coeur and Chesterfield. Indeed, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, $190,000 of Bush's money came from residents of just the 63124 ZIP-code area, a postal zone jam-packed with business executives, bankers, physicians, retired CEOs — and George W.'s Uncle "Bucky," William H. Bush.

That George W., among all presidential candidates, is pulling down the most money in Missouri isn't surprising. After all, his juggernaut campaign has already reported getting a whopping $37 million — and that doesn't include recent fundraisers, including a stop last week in Cape Girardeau. What is interesting is how some Bush-backers have been caught up in the spirit of bipartisan giving. Recent Federal Election Commission reports show a handful of Bush-backers in St. Louis also are donating to former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley, who is challenging Vice President Al Gore Jr. for the Democratic nomination.

Among local givers who've contributed to both Bush and Bradley: retired McDonnell-Douglas chairman Sanford N. McDonnell; retired Washington University chancellor William H. Danforth; Anheuser-Busch chairman and president August A. Busch III; retired May Department Stores chairman David C. Farrell and Edward Jones CEO John W. Bachmann.

Their $1,000 contributions have helped the former Crystal City dribbler raise more than $150,000 in St. Louis and $250,000 statewide this year, according to the FEC — a big haul, given his underdog status. Gore, by comparison, raised just $21,500 from individual contributors in Missouri this year. Of course, the veep got a head start, and his campaign has already pulled in more than $19.6 million nationally. Bradley, up to $11.7 million as of mid-July, is closing the gap.

If you prefer your news about campaign giving raw and unfiltered, check out the FEC's Web site, www.fec.gov, or the more user-friendly Center for Responsive Politics site, at www.opensecrets.org.

 
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